Johnson v. Hatoum – Case Brief Summary (Florida)

In Johnson v. Hatoum (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1970) 239 So. 2d 22, the plaintiff was a pedestrian patron at the defendant's drive-in restaurant.

An automobile operated by another customer struck her from behind. "Plaintiff was in the process of purchasing food to take out and was standing outside defendant's building at a designated walk-up food counter. Her back was necessarily turned to the street and to vehicular traffic on the level, paved parking area. This was occasioned by the layout of defendant's facilities." (Johnson, supra, 239 So. 2d at p. 23.)

The Johnson court concluded, "in sum, it is our opinion that the circumstances of this case are such as to present a classic jury question and we believe that it was error to enter summary judgment. While, from these facts, a jury might deny recovery after a fullscale trial, it might, with equal justification, have concluded, among other things, that the defendant was negligent in failing to erect barriers; in failing to control vehicular traffic; in failing to erect warning signs and in designing the premises so that the unprotected counter space was immediately adjacent to an uncontrolled parking area. We think the jury would have been entitled to find as a matter of common sense and experience that the defendant knew, or should have known, that this was a dangerous condition which would visit injury upon a pedestrian patron whose attention was directed away from the danger." (Id. at p. 27.)